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Time to Check Out the Bourbon Capital of the World

Submitted by on May 14, 2018 – 8:33 amNo Comment

Bardstown, KentuckyBardstown, Kentucky — the Bourbon Capital of the World — is the site of two major events this month and next.

The new exhibit, “Prohibition and Kentucky,” gifted to the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History by Louisville’s Frazier History Museum, opens Saturday (May 19, 2018). The grand reopening of the museum, 114 North 5th Street, Bardstown, Kentucky, takes place at 11 a.m. June 14, 2018 — on National Bourbon Day, of course.

“Come stroll through the many exhibits at the renovated Oscar Getz and experience life as it was for citizens during the Prohibition era while enjoying a newly renovated museum,” said Linda McCloskey, executive director.

The “Prohibition and Kentucky” exhibit opens at 10 a.m. Saturday with historic moonshine stills, flapper dresses, signs and life-size models, including Carrie Nation and an FBI detective. Watch a silent Prohibition-era movie on TV. Trace the rise of the temperance movement, organized crime and the repeal of the 18th Amendment in 1933.

The exhibit brings the Jazz Age to life and shows how millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans chose to violate the national alcohol ban to quench the country’s thirst for booze.

With its two full-sized bars and an event-ready Speakeasy with lighted stage, “Prohibition and Kentucky” stands ready for a party. In 1920, you needed a doctor’s prescription or a Speakeasy password to get your lips on some liquor. Today, both the great stories, and the spirits, are much easier to come by.

Join the crowd at 11 a.m. June 14, 2018, for a ribbon cutting ceremony and help celebrate the grand reopening of the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History. The museum has undergone renovation and an extensive makeover to bring the newly reimagined space to life in telling the story of the history of whiskey.

“All rooms and the hall on the first floor and the entire second floor have been freshly painted,” said McCloskey. “New exhibits and new signage share different chapters of the story of whiskey’s history.”

The grand reopening coincides with National Bourbon Day, when “America’s only Native Spirit” is fêted across the country.

The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History is home to a 5,000-piece permanent collection relating to the American whiskey industry that spans pre-Colonial days to post-Prohibition years. The free-admission museum is located within the circa-1826 Spalding Hall, once a Civil War hospital for both North and South.

Collection highlights include exhibits on Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, an authentic moonshine still captured in the hills of Kentucky, antique bottles and jugs, medicinal whiskey bottles, advertising art, novelty whiskey containers and more. See a circa-1898 Hayner combination-lock bar bottle, an 1840 E.G. Booze Bottle and life-sized murals from 1940s-era liquor stores.

A 600-piece decanter and bottle collection that dates from the 1930s to the present shows off designs both stunning and quirky (and replicas of many of these are available in the gift shop), along with Prohibition-era “prescriptions” and a display about hatchet-swinging temperance warrior Carry Nation.

As the Bourbon Capital of the World, Bardstown is a fitting location to share the story of America’s so-called “Noble Experiment.” Learn more about those tight-lipped ladies of the temperance movement and other fun facts at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History, then visit the distilleries nearby: Barton 1792 and Willett Distillery and, on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail®, Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Four Roses.

The Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History opened in 1984 with the personal collection of Bardstown native Oscar Getz, late owner of the former Barton’s Distillery. Today it houses a 5,000-piece permanent collection relating to the American whiskey industry that spans pre-Colonial days to post-Prohibition years.

Bardstown is known as the Bourbon Capital of the World. It is home to six distilleries, including Barton 1792 and Willett Distillery, and these four Kentucky Bourbon Trail® distilleries: Heaven Hill, Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and Four Roses’ second campus. Three new distilleries will open within the next year.

(Photo courtesy of Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History)

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